Spencer Tracy. Steve Martin. Robert DeNiro. Alan Alda. Alex Rocco. What do these men have in common? Each played the role of “father of the bride” in a movie at some point in his career. This same role is played by men around the world everyday. I am sure it is a bittersweet time in every dad’s life, walking his baby girl down the aisle and giving her hand to the man she has chosen to spend the rest of her life with. I am sure that each father has a picture in his mind of what his daughter’s husband will be like. He should be kind, funny, moral, caring, a provider such as a doctor, lawyer, or CEO. Dads want to give their girls the world and so much more. I don’t think that Sasha’s dad ever dreamed when she was a little girl that she would marry the man that she did on that beautiful summer evening in 2007.
I never actually met Sasha or her fiancé. I only ever dealt with Sasha’s father. The bride’s mother wasn’t even very involved. She was the perfect wife who made sure her husband was fed at 5:00pm everyday, that he had his cocktail and very “Joan Cleaver.” She was a sweetheart. I loved her immediately.
He always wore a jacket or cardigan, khakis, monogrammed dress shirt, bow tie, and penny loafers. She always wore something sweet and cute. She was fashionable and always had her purse and shoes perfectly matched. Although her outfits were very cute she was very practical. I pictured that as soon as they entered the house she neatly placed her pocketbook on the entrance table, enter the kitchen and tie on an apron. They were the sweetest couple and very kind.
I affectionately called him “dad-zilla.” He was very specific in what he wanted and didn’t want for the wedding and reception. He picked out the invitations, the music, the menu, the song the couple danced to, the decorations, etc. At first I thought it was so nice that he was helping so much. Then it got to be a little weird that he never wanted me to ask her questions or call her about anything. It hit me! This must be an arranged marriage. I didn’t know that white, upper class, Americans did that - but to each his own, right? This could be the happiest union in the state. As we grow up it we learn that our parents are right about a lot more things that we give them credit for, so maybe we should trust them to pick out a spouse. Maybe Tina Turner was right “What’s love got to do with it?”
As the planning continued I found myself getting more excited as the reception neared. I couldn’t wait to see the bride and groom see each other for the first time. It was four days until the reception and dad-zilla called me everyday. He wanted to bring the photo DVD in to test the color, he wanted to check the table arrangements, he wanted to make sure that each table cloth was centered on the tables; but most importantly, he wanted everything perfect for his only daughter.
During one meeting, dad-zilla was testing the slide show. He insisted that “Joan Cleaver,” the mother of the bride, and I kept our backs to the slide show (he didn’t want anyone seeing his work until the color schemes were perfect). As we chatted, I learned that bride and groom had been dating for seven years and they have actually known each other for fifteen years.
“So this isn’t an arranged marriage?” I wanted to shout. Bummer!
The love birds met at a conference they both attended professionally. Hmmmm. Maybe they are teachers? Architects? I found myself not listening to Mrs. Cleaver and instead trying to think of professions that hold conferences for professional advancements. I had a long list in my head of what the bride and groom might do. I was completely bamboozled. I wanted to turn around and sneak a picture of the bride and groom, just a glimpse! Every time Mrs. Cleaver thought I was about the turn around she would say:
“Remember honey, Mr. Griswold wants it to be a surprise for everyone.”
“Yes ma’am, sorry.” But what’s the big surprise. Is the bride the only human to have two heads, seven arms, and four ears? Why make it a surprise? I mean if I was the parent of someone with two heads, seven arms and four ears I would show her picture to everyone before she got there so that no one stared! What were these people thinking - show me the mutant bride!!
Finally, wedding day was here. I was anxious, I’ll admit it. I hope that I could live up to the standards that dad-zilla set for me. I didn’t get a chance to attend the wedding ceremony. Dad-zilla had that under control. I was assigned to be at the reception hall to greet guests as they arrived. As the Cadillac, BMW and Lexus automobiles drove into the parking lot I thought to myself that this would be a pretty early evening and that the group would be very tame.
Guests began entering the reception hall. All very nicely dressed for a summer wedding and reception, mid to upper sixties, white hair, professionally and neatly dressed, then I heard a roar coming from the parking lot, a very distinctive sound, the only sound to be patented – the sound of a very large group of motorcycles. I wonder if they have the wrong reception hall? This will be a little awkward to send them away and make sure that none of the older guests are uncomfortable with the group entering in more leather than in one might find at a cow farm in Idaho.
“Hello! Are you here for the Griswold / Todd Reception?” I asked.
“Yes miss we are.” said the burley man covered in leather. “Do you have a place we could leave our helmets?”
“Sure, follow me.” I open up the cloak room for Hell’s Angels’ helmets. At least they believe in safety first! That’s a plus!
As everyone was mingling during cocktail hour, I just kept thinking about the newlyweds. When they hugged, did she hug with two arms or all seven? Then I noticed something as I looked through the mingling guests, we had another group of people added to our interesting little concoction of wedding reception guests. There were the conservative guests in their floral dresses and suits, then we had the bikers and the other groups....does that guy have a tattoo on his head? Yes he did! There were guests covered in tattoos and piercings.
I began gathering our proverbial melting pot of guests to the location where the bride and groom were going to be announced. I had my staff with the bridal party, the band leader was in place for the announcing and now I had to run in the back to check on the caterers.
“It is my pleasure to announce Mr. and Mrs. Trevor Todd!!!” the band leader said. Everyone stood up and applauded. Darn it for not having 6’ 5” parents! I couldn’t see over any of the guests to catch a glimpse of the happy couple.
Everyone ate and had a great time. It seemed like anytime I scanned the room of over 400 guests to try to find the bride in a big white dress her back was to me. Dad-zilla and Joan Cleaver FINALLY brought the bride and groom by to introduce them to me just before the first dance and the father / daughter dance.
Sasha was beaming - she was wearing a smile ear to ear and so was her groom, Trevor. He was bald with a nicely trimmed long goatee (no not ZZ Top long). He shook my hand and I noticed her name tattooed across his fingers. She had her hair done in an “up do” with tendrils framing her face and she had on a beautiful dress. She was covered in tattoos.
As I talked to Sasha and Trevor, I learned that she was the top tattoo artist in the state and that he was a custom motorcycle designer and builder. It finally all made sense, all of the different guests belonged to each of their different lives, friends, and family. It really was beautiful, that I think Sasha and Trevor would have been just as happy eloping or getting married in Vegas and having a huge party, Sasha knew how much this meant to her father and they went through the whole ceremony and evening and loved every moment of it.
To see Sasha and her dad spinning around the dance floor to Judy Garland singing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” Joan Cleaver said:
“This is ‘their’ song. He sang this song to her every night until she moved out of the house to go to college and sometimes even then they would sing it on the phone together. “
I had tears welling up in my eyes. Every time I hear that song I always picture Sasha and her dad dancing on that day. There is a special bond between father and daughter that is unexplainable. It was a beautiful moment and I am so lucky to have been a part of their special day.
The I Do Expert